Question:
During the game where should the ref observe the game without getting in the way of play?

Answer (July 9, 2012):
You might try something I call The Magic Formula, which works for all situations, in both dynamic play and at restarts. You will have to modify it a bit if you do not have an AR to work with, but it still works.

x = a + b + c
Where x is the proper position in either dynamic play or at a restart and a, b, and c are conditions that must be met (or questions that must be answered by a “yes”).

a = I can see the possible problem area; i.e., where play will go next

b = I can see my assistant referee; i.e., I have play bracketed between me and my AR

c = I am not using space the players need; i.e., I am not blocking the passing lanes or in the way of either runners or players with the ball

That means that you may have to get outside the touchlines (and sometimes the goal lines) to be in the best position. You should also stay slightly behind play, rather than get too far ahead.

“The Magic Formula” was ibtroduced into USSF training materials in the mid-1990s, but even the folks at the English FA love and have “borrowed” it, just as we have borrowed a few things of theirs. However, because fads in training change, you and your colleagues may never have seen this information.